Set the Date #EndDirectProvision

Ireland’s Direct Provision system is an ongoing human rights scandal, trapping asylum seekers in limbo for years and violating their human rights. It is a fundamentally flawed system. No amount of reforms or improvements will ever make it acceptable. After 20 years of cruelty, it is well past time for the Government to finally end Direct Provision.

 

What Needs to Happen? ‘Set the Date’ to End Direct Provision

We are at a critical moment. In 2020, the Government committed to finally end Direct Provision and replace it with accommodation that has the protection and promotion of human rights at its core. While these commitments are welcome, it is in their implementation that we will see actual change.

In October 2020, the Government published the Report of the Advisory Group on Direct Provision. This report provided a comprehensive and detailed set of recommendations towards ending Direct Provision by 2023.

The Government is currently working on its plans to end Direct Provision. In mid-February 2021, the Government is expected to publish its ‘White Paper’ setting out what it proposes to do. This will be the test of its commitments. Direct Provision has continued through 20 years of successive governments, so this cannot be another false dawn that dashes people’s hopes.

So, we’re calling on the Government to accept the Advisory Group’s recommendations and finally ‘Set the Date’ to end Direct Provision. This will need a whole of Government approach. There needs to be a detailed implementation plan with a concrete timeframe and ironclad commitments that will outlast any shifts in the political landscape. And the alternative must respect and protect people’s human rights.

What is Direct Provision?

Direct Provision was established in 2000 and is Ireland’s system of state provided accommodation and other basic necessities to people seeking international protection. DP centres are mainly hostels, hotels and other accommodation owned and run by private companies for profit, paid for by the Government.

DP was designed as a short-term emergency measure. Instead it has lasted more than 20 years. People were meant to spend no longer than six months while their asylum application was processed. Instead, they are trapped in limbo, often for years. Many are in overcrowded conditions, sharing bedrooms and bathrooms with strangers, lacking dignity and privacy.

The living conditions, institutionalised regime and lack of appropriate support services are unacceptable for anyone, especially for such long periods of time. It is particularly harsh for families, children, people who have experienced trauma, sexual violence or torture, and other vulnerable people.

DP centres are often in isolated locations far from local communities. The isolation and hopelessness can damage physical and mental health and hinders people’s ability to restart their lives once recognised as refugees. For torture survivors, it can severely compromise their rehabilitation.

Direct Provision and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown in a truly brutal way just how inhumane Direct Provision is, and why the system urgently needs to end.

People in DP have faced this crisis in settings which make ensuring their health and wellbeing all the more difficult. The institutionalised regime and congregated settings have meant they have faced additional barriers to being able to adequately protect themselves, including taking the key preventive measures advised by the Government.

Social distancing is simply not possible when strangers share bedrooms, bathrooms and living spaces.

Rapid spread and increased risk of infection within crowded centres remain of major concern until the pandemic has ended. Urgent and effective measures are needed right now to protect the lives and well-being of those in the Direct Provision and emergency accommodation system.